On September 9, Yeah Yeah Yeahs frontwoman Karen O debuts her first solo album, Crush Songs, on Cult Records, the label founded by the Strokes' Julian Casablancas. Recorded back in 2006 and 2007, the pretty, gritty, lo-fi songs are about, well, crushes, of which Miss O apparently had many. She'll tour behind the new record in only four cities—L.A., New York, London and Berlin—and will perform four intimate hometown shows in honor of the record.
Last year was a bit of a whirlwind for arty L.A. R&B purveyor Jillian Banks, who performs as BANKS. It began when British DJ Zane Lowe found her song "Before I Ever Met You" online and hyped it on his radio show as the next big thing. Jump ahead one year and BANKS has received award nominations from both the BBC and MTV, worked with fast-rising beat masters SOHN and Lil Silva and toured with the Weeknd. She hits town in support of her immodestly titled debut LP, Goddess.
Canadian duo Chromeo hits the stage for a live set of super fun (and enjoyably cheesy at times) electronic R&B stylings, playing from its recent album, White Women. Starting the show is booty-shaking extroardinaire Big Freedia, NOLA's biggest and best "sissy bounce" performer.
Fast-rising British singer-songwriter Sam Smith first made his name singing on Disclosure's super catchy "Latch," and now performs in the wake of his full-length debut, In the Lonely Hour. With a voice like that, we can only assume that he means he's been lonely for literally one hour.
The 24-year-old alt-R&B enigma Abel Tesfaye, voice of the Weeknd, returns for his biggest NYC show yet. Not all of Tesfaye's recorded music lives up to the deafening buzz he elicted upon his 2011 online emergence, but at its best (e.g. the Drake collaboration "Crew Love," a cover of MJ's "Dirty Diana," "Elastic Heart" with Sia and Diplo and a handful of tracks from 2013's immersive Kiss Land), the Weeknd's output is both dizzyingly sensual and deeply unsettling.
Too polished to be punk but too trashy to be pop, ’80s alt-rock pioneers the Replacements finally bring their reunion tour to NYC. Word has it that, even after 22 years, Paul Westerberg & Co. can still deliver the sloppily passionate goods. Opening are Brooklyn bar band extraordinaire the Hold Steady and rollicking, Southern-tinged roots alt-country rockers Deer Tick.
If you still haven't heard of Stromae, get ready—he's about to be everywhere. The electro-songsmith (real name: Paul Van Haver) specializes in soulful bangers that sound at once sophisticated and bombastic. He's a huge star in his native Belgium, has collaborated with Kanye West and made his U.S. television debut this past June on Late Night with Seth Meyers. The mania only seems to be spreading, judging by the high demand for tickets to his North American tour, during which he'll stop by Terminal 5 for two nights.
The Black Keys
After the sleek, commercial sound of El Camino, the Black Keys return to a more soulful groove on the new Turn Blue. Produced again by Danger Mouse, the bluesy Ohio natives float through some nifty psych on the record. It's mellow, for certain, but should still sound great live. The Keys swing through Brooklyn's Barclays Center in late September.
Though the band has been touring heavily for the last couple years, there's new reason to shell out big bucks for the eternally great Mac. Sixteen years after leaving the band, Christine McVie returns for the aptly named On With the Show tour. This means we can again hear her sing "Everywhere," "Hold Me" and "Think About Me," which is a very, very good thing. Oh, and Lindsey Buckingham is still the coolest.
Metal fans across the globe shed a tear three summers ago when it seemed that the juggernaut that is Judas Priest would be embarking on its final tour. But the band recently decided that its 16-album discography was simply too scant, and in fall, it's gallivanting across the nation in support of the much-buzzed new LP, Redeemer of Souls. If you've yet to witness Rob Halford and his legendary hell-bent-for-leather quintet in action, you'd better get moving—and if you think they've lost a move over the years, you've definitely got another thing coming. L.A.’s Steel Panther—which both sends up and revels in its hometown’s illustrious tradition of glam-metal bombast—sets the stage.
Fast-rising Brit quartet Bastille manages to mesh an ’80s postpunk moodiness with perky, dramatic beats—not a million miles from Ed Sheeran singing with the Pet Shop Boys. Its sophomore album has purportedly been delayed due to extensive touring, but we figure that means you can expect a well-oiled show.
The brand of synth-pop that Nika Roza Danilova makes as Zola Jesus is as monumental as it is ethereal. She’s stated before that she wants to be No. 1 on the Billboard chart, and anyone who catches her cosmic set live could agree that the goal might not be far off. Here, she's touting a sparkling new album, Taiga—her fifth full length, and first for the Mute label.
Heat-seeking New Zealand songstress Kimbra is much more than the crystal-clear–voiced cameo artist on Gotye's 2011 viral hit, "Somebody That I Used to Know." As a follow-up to 2012's Vows, a heavily rhythmic jazz-and-soul-inflected pop concoction, the 24-year-old recently released The Golden Echo, which promises to earn her the stateside name recognition she enjoys at home.
London alt-R&B enigma FKA twigs is bubbling just under superstardom. Like labelmates and fellow eschewers of capitalization, the xx, twigs makes super soulful electropop, with a sound that's lush and just as dramatic as her appearance. Expect to hear songs from her debut full length, LP 1, which debuted last month, including the pretty (and pretty nasty) "Two Weeks."
This Leeds, England, quartet traffics in a distinct sound, combining clever songwriting and colorful, jazzy instrumentation with world beats and skittering drops for a quirky brand of alt pop. The band's Mercury Prize-winning debut, An Awesome Wave, made a big splash in 2012, and now alt-J's back with sophomore effort This is All Yours.
The New Pornographers
It's been four years since the last album from beloved Canadian crew the New Pornographers (which launched the careers of A.C. Newman, Neko Case and Destroyer's Dan Bejar), and we've been waiting patiently. Their sixth, Brill Bruisers, drops in August and has been a long time coming, as has a cross-country tour. Expect shamelessly grandiose, irresistibly hooky pop, with peppy Brooklynites the Pains of Being Pure at Heart opening.
Now considered a legacy act of the early ’00s, Interpol quickly rose to fame with its debut album Turn on the Bright Lights, which was hailed by both NME and Pitchfork as one of the best of 2002. Since then, the band has struggled through unmet expectations, a changing roster, complacency, growing apathy and solo projects. But don't count them out: Paul Banks and his crew have a summer of festival shows behind them, their first global tour in three years ahead of them and a new record out on September 9, El Pintor.
After years of confronting the typical pop-group problems—quibbling, intra-band romance, addiction, figuring out how to transition away from shoulder pads—Culture Club has reunited to play both coasts before next year's release of a brand-new album. Boy George hit town behind a new solo LP earlier in 2014, but the nostalgia factor ought to make this gig at Beacon Theatre even bigger.
Julian Casablancas + the Voidz
NYC rock legend (and the last guy still swapping s for z) Julian Casablancas isn't resting on his considerable laurels as frontman for New York's beloved Strokes, who played a knockout gig at this year's Governors Ball. With his new band, the Voidz, Casablancas has just released Tyranny, his first extracurricular effort since 2009's Phrazes for the Young. Snag your tickets as this hometown show is sure to sell out fast.
Justin Timberlake isn’t the smoothest when it comes to between-song banter, but that’s the only thing you might find lacking in his current big-box 20/20 Experience tour. A consummate pro, JT mixes a young Sinatra’s swagger and charisma with the airtight funk of peak Michael Jackson, making magic night after night with a crack big band.
We love fall for plenty of reasons: sweater weather, gorgeous foliage, fewer children running amok. But our favorite part about the season is the insane number of shows that come through town. Our lady crushes new (FKA twigs) and old (Karen O) will both play behind swoonworthy new albums, and well-loved bands like Interpol and the New Pornographers are gracing us with their first new work in years. There are also lots of reunion tours tugging at our heartstrings, namely Fleetwood Mac, the Replacements and a slightly more grown-up Culture Club. Throw in a few newcomers such as rising stars BANKS and Belgium sensation Stromae, and we'll have a full schedule (and slightly emptier wallets) through November.
Check out our top picks below and click on the tour dates for more info, including ticket links.